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Security boost for red bail hearing

Reds shirts can rally but cannot enter the court compound during the verdict today

The Criminal Court has worked with the police to finalise all security preparations ahead of today's bail hearing for 24 red-shirt leaders, chief judge Thawee Pra-chuablarb said yesterday.

"I believe today's bail hearing will proceed without any disturbances," Thawee said.

Under the police recommendation, the red shirts will not be allowed to enter the court compound on Ratchadaphisek Road but can rally at the designated site nearby in a show of moral support for their leaders, he said.

The courtroom for the hearing can accommodate about 35 visitors in addition to the defendants and their lawyers, he added.

The hearing proceedings will be opened in the morning by the presiding judges who are also in charge of trying the defendants for terrorism and other charges in connection with the 2010 political strife.

The presiding judges are expected to question the defendants about their recent rally speeches before reaching a decision on whether they have violated their bail conditions.

The proceedings will likely conclude by noon and the judges will decide whether to revoke the bail before afternoon. Should the judges deem it necessary, they have the judicial discretion to defer the bail ruling in order to collect evidence or summon additional witnesses.

Lead defence lawyer Winyat Chatmontree said all defendants, including four with parliamentary immunity, have planned to show up and testify.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua and three Pheu Thai MPs, Kokaew Pikulthong, Weng Tojirakarn and Vipoothalaeng Pattanaphumthai will waive their immunity, Winyat said.

He said he hoped the judges would thoroughly examine the rally speeches, then the outcome of bail review might be favourable to the defendants as they had no intent to violate their bail conditions.

In case the bail was revoked, the defence was prepared to re-apply for temporary release, he said.

He said he was confident police could keep the situation under control.

Under one of their bail conditions, the defendants had agreed not to cause any agitation. Their fiery attacks on the judiciary in connection with the judicial review on the charter amendment bill prompted the bail review. Hundreds of police will provide security to the judges, important figures and prevent ill-intentioned groups from creating turmoil at the Criminal Court as the judges deliver their ruling, Royal Thai Police spokesman Pol Maj-General Piya Uthayo said.

Piya said he had sought cooperation from Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship leader Thida Thawornset to rein in the red shirts and not block the roads and stay on the footpath.

Piya said 600 police from the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Crime Suppression Police Division, Border Patrol Police and Police Region 1,2 and 7 would join forces to maintain security at the court.


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